NEWSLETTER :: December 17 2010
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It was a good week for… The Expendables started off very well and that Eclipse didn't do badly either…

It's been a bad week for…
That weather's looking ominous for what should be a hugely busy weekend…
The latest instalment in The Twilight Saga, Eclipse, notched up impressive week one sales in a busy week at retail, shifting 912,506 copies in the UK in its first week, the fourth biggest week one of the year. The title gave a boost to the other films in the collection and assorted box sets too – sales of the first two films were up 90 per cent week on week, with Twilight shifting 13,000 units and New Moon double that figure. The triple disc collection of all three sold more than 63,000 units. Tot the lot up and you're looking at more than 1 million across the franchise. Sales in Ireland were at 22,000, double that of its nearest rival. eOne also boasted of an impressive performance in Canada, where it shifted some 500,000 copies.

This week saw another bright start – The Expendables was fast out of the blocks, topping the charts thus far and it's worth keeping an eye on over the weekend… And one unusual sight earlier this week: a Knight And Day branded motorbike was out and about on the streets as Fox sent it out to ferry journalists around town promoting the release this week of the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz starrer…

There's no such thing, the old saying goes, as bad publicity and comic Frankie Boyle proved that last week. The comic was all over the newspapers last week as Jordan/Katie Price complained about his jibe at her son Harvey in his new 4DVD series Tramadol Nights. Being who she is, the complaints were put through every newspaper (repeating the joke) and it certainly seems to have had an effect on sales, although maybe not in the way she intended. Sales of his new live DVD, If I Could Reach Out Through My TV Set And Strangle You, I Would, were up a whopping 69 per cent the day after the programme aired and the story broke, and it was the second biggest day of the week in sales terms after Saturday. Sales were further boosted by 4DVD' TV and outdoor campaign breaking too. 4DVD's Karla Berry said: "I can't imagine there is much cross over between Katie Price / Frankie Boyle fans and we have seen that the controversy has helped sales rather than hinder them."

Meanwhile, 4DVD is already thinking well ahead to Q4 2011, unveiling a major new signing. Micky Flanagan is one of the most sought after names in stand-up and 4DVD will be releasing his debut DVD title on November 21 next year. The genuine Eastender is, Frank Skinner said, "arguably the funniest comedian in Britain… the future of comedy", what's more his star is rising – this month alone he'll appear on The Royal Variety Performance, Have I Got News For You Xmas Special, Live At The Apollo, Most Annoying People 2010 and Mock The Week and, in January, will appear on Celebrity Mastermind and the launch episode of ITV's Comedy Rocks. 4DVD's Karla Berry said: "Having been a familiar face on the comedy circuit for a number of years, and being nominated for Best Newcomer at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival, he is now set to become a household name and we are really excited to be releasing his first DVD."

More acquisitions news, and we at The Raygun have been waiting for years for Irwin Allen's classic The Time Tunnel, among others, to arrive on DVD (it's one of those titles, like Second Sight's recent Double Deckers, that mere mention of gets us humming the theme tune) and, at last, this and a pair of other Allen classics, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Land Of The Giants. But the trio have been signed by independent revelation after inking an agreement with Fox and Hollywood Classics. The latter two will kick off Revelation's release programme in March 2011 and joins the company's roster of sci-fi-related TV programming such as The Tomorrow People. Revelation's Trevor Drane said: "Revelation is proud to be able to bring the major work of one of TV’s great innovators to the home entertainment market for the first time ever. We expect the three series to appeal to TV collectors and those who remember the shows fondly. TV boxed sets are a big part of the home entertainment offering and the Irwin Allen collection will add significantly to the great choice that consumers now have to collect the very best of TV on DVD."

The BFI has announced some of its new strategy for 2011 as it faces up to 15% funding cuts at the same time as taking on much of the work of the Film Council following its abolition. Despite around 37 potential job losses at the BFI, the commercial arm, including the DVD distribution business, is unlikely to be seriously affected as the BFI needs to become ever more reliant on earned income in the wake of government cuts. And it is also going to be looking toward the digital sector to lead the way, too, particularly in terms of opening up programming to the public. BFI director Amanda Nevill said: "It is imperative the BFI builds on its successes and remains commercially astute in this tough new environment. We have an incredible opportunity in the months and years ahead to create something very special for film in the UK and these proposals are both bold and necessary." Announcements on some of its digital strategy are due next year, but meanwhile, in DVD and Blu-ray terms, it's business as usual – if anything, it's even busier, with a raft of releases, including more from its excellent Flipside label due in January. And, by amazing coincidence, we're looking at the Flipside on our website this week.
And also at more My Inspiration contributions from the industry, our weekly round-up of the weekend's press coverage and loads more. Click here.
British troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will get a bit of cheer this Christmas courtesy of the BVA and its members. The organisation teamed up with the Ministry of Defence and charity Services Sound & Vision Corporation to send out some of the year's biggest DVD releases to serving forces overseas. Up to 9,000 troops could benefit from the initiative. Titles on offer took in new releases, classic reissues and TV comedy and include 24, Alien Quadrilogy and Avatar (Fox), Back To The Future (Universal), Clash Of The Titans (Warner), Death At A Funeral (SPHE), Get Him To The Greek (Universal), Inbetweeners Series 1-3 (4DVD), Iron Man 2 (Paramount), Karate Kid (SPHE), Robin Hood (Universal). BVA director general Lavinia Carey said: "This gift is the video entertainment industry’s way of showing that we are thinking of our British Services men and women who can’t be with their families this Christmas. We all love a good video and a good laugh, especially at this time of year. We have had some lovely letters of thanks from the troops who received our DVDs last year, so the BVA wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out this Christmas." 

We've already eulogised at length about Momentum's line-up for 2011, and things are definitely looking up for the company, particularly as its forthcoming Brit biggie The King's Speech gains impetus (we would have said "gains momentum", but this phrase is banned in our Style Guide with reference to the company). After sweeping up at the BIFAs, it now looks set for further awards glory, as it was nominated for seven Golden Globes (always a great portent for the Oscars too). What's more, it was given the nod in many key categories, Best Motion Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor and Actress, Director and Screenplay as well as score. It's due in January at cinemas, with home entertainment in Q2. In further good news for the company, The Fighter, the Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale drama, scored the second highest number of nominations, with six, putting it alongside SPHE's The Social Network. The event takes place in mid-January. Momentum md Xavier Marchand said: "We are extremely excited to be releasing The King's Speech in the UK and Ireland in 2011. With seven nominations in total, we’re delighted that Tom Hooper, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and everyone else involved the film have received such an incredible reception from the HFPA."

To London's Prince Charles cinema, for an exclusive preview and Q&A for Momentum's Catfish, opening at cinemas and on demand via blinkbox, Coolroom, Filmflex, LOVEFiLM and ppv with Sky this weekend, rental shortly and DVD in January. It was like being in the future; as well as an audience of competition winners, media and industry types at the cinema, both the film and subsequent Q&A were being beamed to cinemas and streamed to 250 lucky LOVEFiLM members online. Questions for "star" of the doc Nev Schulman were being submitted via the Internet and Twitter. And, for us in the West End, it went off without a hitch (although there were one or two glitches elsewhere). Momentum is really gearing itself up for the DVD part of the release. What must buoy them, from where we're standing, is, that on second viewing, Catfish still works and obviously stands up to repeat viewing. Expect to see loads more coverage in the run up to the January release.  

 Fitness now, and it's been a busy week for the genre in the run-up to the key post-Christmas season. The past seven days have seen the woman who virtually invented the genre, Jane Fonda, busy pushing her return to the fray, with Lionsgate's Prime Time: Fit And Focus. She featured on a live satellite link-up on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, with 2.5 million viewers tuning in. She's been interviewed for the Daily Express, Observer Magazine. Woman Magazine, Woman's Own and The Lady, with further coverage in Best, Woman's Weekly and Chat magazine to come. She's already appeared in a double page fe ature in the Daily Mail's Female section and is slated for more TV too, with appearances scheduled for the new Vanessa (Feltz)show on Five and Fern Britton's channel 4 show in January. Lionsgate's Kaz Mills said: "We feel extremely privileged to have secured fantastic support from the first lady of fitness Jane Fonda in preparation for the UK release of Jane Fonda’s Prime Time workout. Jane has completed a variety of rare interviews resulting in fantastic coverage which will supplement the already impressive preorder numbers. Elevation has also secured amazing support across the board, so expect to see this title everywhere from December 27." 

Meanwhile, another fitness title aiming to secure plenty of coverage is Kerry Katona's debut release from ITV Studios Home Entertainment. The company is putting together an above the line campaign that will include TV advertising and outdoor, as well as numerous TV and magazine appearances from the former Atomic Kitten turned tabloid fave, with a number of covers secured. As ITV's Kylie Featherstone said: "
You wont be able to miss Kerry in January."

One fitness brand making a welcome return this time round is Yogalates. The brand, devised by Louise Solomon, has been at Momentum for as long as we can remember (well, for around 10 years, which is a lifetime in this business) and, along the way, has notched up sales of more than half a million units. The new release for the programme, which, as the name suggests, combines the best of yoga and pilates, is called Dynamic Weight Loss and sees the brand returning to the fray after a few years without a new release. Momentum's Louisa Mitchell said: " In a market saturated with D-list celebrity releases, Yogalates has always been a strong performer, representing a quality brand and a programme that works for real people.  We're confident of continued success into 2011."…

Second Sight has been one of our favourite independent labels for many a year, thanks to its gorgeous sleeve design and canny ability to pick up great classic films. But now it's dipping its toe into the DTV world, after picking up the UK rights to horror The Open Door. It features a young cast of exciting talent and has also won plaudits and gongs from the horror cognoscenti. Second Sight's Chris Holden said: "I thought it was time Second Sight broadened its horizons. The world of classic and cult cinema will always be the company's key focus but the time is now right to explore additional areas. The Open Door has been building a following and getting some great press and it's the perfect film to get the ball rolling."

Horror but of a different kind from eOne's The Hole due in January. It's that rare beast – a genuinely scary film aimed at a younger audience. We've seen the title, which has already enjoyed a successful theatrical release, and it really does work. Think The Goonies, and, given the fact that director Joe Dante is at the helm, Gremlins, Small Soldiers and then some. eOne is busy putting its campaign together for the release, which will include a TV campaign that it promises will be "heavyweight", with targeted 10 and 20 second spots appearing on both satellite and terrestrial channels. There will be further support in terms of advertising in both long-lead magazines and newspapers and weekly publications, as well as an online and facebook campaign.   


And so, this is Christmas, as John Lennon once stated. And what have we done? Or, as we're asking this week, what have you liked? The Raygun is pulling together a year end poll across the industry, to find out the best and worst of 2010 and the trade's hopes and features for the year ahead. Anyone can take part, all you have to do is answer the following simple questions, and drop them on an email to We'll be selecting a few highlights, and then printing them in full in the new year (so if you want to remain anonymous, please let us know). And feel free to persuade your colleagues to join in too. You can be as flippant – or as serious – as you want. Here are the questions:
Favourite three releases of the year:
Highlights of 2010:
Lowpoint of 2010:
Event of the year:
Biggest challenge in 2011:
What I'm looking forward to in 2011:
We've been a little on the quiet side this week, enjoying the odd Christmas drink with old faces, but we've also been out to see Catfish (again) for the special Q&A, groundbreaking stuff. And at the back end of last week, we also went up to Kaleidoscope's office to enjoy its annual Christmas drunks that doubles up as a Wii challenge. We enjoyed the former and steered clear of the latter…

"In providing consumers with exceptional all-new mini-movies and the greatest choice of platforms across DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, Despicable Me has rocketed to the top of everyone's gift list and has assumed the coveted position as the must-own release of the holiday season.” Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau, talking about Despicable Me's first day sales which gave a whopping $25 million worth of revenue across DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand. The performance was boosted by minion-related shorts created for the release (see last week's newsletter).  

Hugely reminiscent of the likes of Gomorrah, Ajami was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscar's and it really is highly recommended, powerful stuff. It boasts four star reviews from the likes of Time Out and The Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Metro and Daily Mirror and is, as Momentum's Clare Dundrow rightly said, a "real must-see" film. Due from the company on January 31, it's well worth closer inspection. Dundrow added: "Critically acclaimed and heralded as this years Gomorrah, Ajami tells the story of five characters who live in the Ajami district of Jaffa, and depicts the melting pot of different cultures and beliefs and how each character reaches their own personal breaking point as they strive for daily survival."

Fair play to Optimum Releasing, which enjoyed its biggest ever opening with the performance of The Tourist. It had been bold with its marketing, with its first TV advertising slot a month ago, but it paid off, with a £1.34 million theatrical bow. It wasn't enough to take the top slot, however (although it has set the seal on Optimum's most successful year), that honour went to the latest Narnia outing, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. The other new entries in the top 10 were Somewhere (£125,681) and No Problem (£114,652).

Robert De Niro was once Martin Scorsese's go to actor for almost every role, but that role now seems to be filled by a younger model (Leonardo Di Caprio), and the method actor and auteur haven't worked together since Casino back in the mid 1990s. But they are set to reunite once more for the ninth time, reviving a partnership that includes such gems as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, King Of Comedy and Goodfellas. The film? The Irishman, which follows a union worker turned, you've guessed it, hitman. We can't wait…

We often joke about great film titles, especially horror titles that team up baddies or monsters against a certain group (such as the eagerly awaited Cockneys Vs Zombies). But how about this lot? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Your Bridesmaid Is A B*tch? Zombie Baby? Boy Scouts Vs Zombies? There are just some of the titles that are on the Black List, the much admired list of films that have yet to be made or releases, but effectively represent Hollywood's hottest scripts. Others on the new 76-strong list, compiled from assorted agents, executives and the likes in the film business, include Murdoch, a film about the media mogul (which is unlikely to be made at Fox). It's fascinating stuff – see more here.

We love our comic book news and this week's surrounds Thor (see below). Now, we love Idris Elba, the Hackney geezer turned Baltimore gangster in The Wire, not least because of his leading role in the "best TV programme ever" (according to The Guardian et al), but partly because when in London, he's often spotted in our local Shoreditch boozer The Griffin (not that one). But his forthcoming role in Marvel adaptation Thor has got a whole bunch of white supremacists hot under the collar, as they object to a black Norse god. The Council Of Conservative Citizens is urging a boycott, which, as far as we're concerned, is all the more reason to go and see it. As Elba himself noted: "Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers. That's OK, but the colour of my skin is wrong?"

We've been having a nose around here recently, as design agency What Is Bobo (crazy name, crazy guys) has launched its brand spanking new website. Better still, it had a smart launch offer giving away free champagne to anyone who could find the secret stash of booze (now that's a way to drive traffic to your site). Agency sites are notoriously difficult to get right, but we liked this one, take a look at it here

To celebrate its 20th anniversary (no, really) we followed home alone, in real time at Check the people he's following too… And follow us on

We loved the countdown clock for this one, as Captain Jack returns:

The one that's got the comic book fans all excited this week:

Lengthy teaser, not giving too much away, but enough to whet the appetite…

Oddly similar to the aforementioned Transformers, it does look fun though:

Genuinely creepy high concept horror:

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